As Eddie Grundy took on the challenge of constructing a shepherd’s hut for Lynda Snell in a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, his father Joe couldn’t hide his disdain for the idea, saying; “It ain’t right though, mocking the working man’s heritage.”
The curmudgeonly patriarch of The Grundy Clan can find support for his view in Richard Lee, co-owner and founder of Dorset-based master hutmakers, Plankbridge, who has closely tracked a recent trend for ‘shepherd huts’ that are far from true to their Victorian heritage.
The core value of Plankbridge is to capture the spirit of the Victorian craftsmen who proudly made shepherd’s huts and Richard believes that their heritage should play a defining role, always beginning with the iconic 12’ by 6’ footprint and corrugated iron exterior as a starting point. As Lynda Snell stated in the world's longest-running radio soap opera, shepherd’s huts are; “a piece of our cultural heritage, part of the rural fabric from days gone by”, which is why Richard sees Plankbridge playing a key role as guardians of this slice of British rural history.
Richard continually steers customers back to tradition when requests for adaptions are not in keeping with what was once a distinctive part of the country’s agricultural landscape, while breathing new life into the huts that were nearly a lost and forgotten relic by the 1990s. Richard explains;
“Far from mocking the working man’s heritage, at Plankbridge we have sought to keep the great tradition of shepherd’s huts alive, repurposing them for use in a modern environment. They still serve their original function, of course, as a space for outdoor living, getting people one step closer to nature and allowing them to extend the use of their gardens at either end of the year. Having said that, I do feel some sympathy for the sentiments expressed by the likes of Joe Grundy, who in his words ‘used to good as live in it, in the old days… when the wind was blowing up a gale and the rain was hammering', because we’re now seeing so many poor replicas springing up, paying little respect for tradition in terms of layout, design, dimensions and craftsmanship. If it’s not as close to 12’ long as possible and 6’ wide, then it’s not a shepherd’s hut!”
For more information about Plankbridge Hutmakers visit www.plankbridge.com.